SUNHERALD – Lieutenant governor’s power derives from senators; lawmaker say chamber must take back its authority

See the source imageMinutes before the 2019 legislative session recently ended, Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, went to the presiding officer’s podium in the Senate chamber to whisper to Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves that he wanted to take a point of personal privilege.

Speaking to the full chamber, Reeves told Bryan he was going to recognize him but warned that the reason for taking a point of personal privilege is narrowly defined in the Senate rules. It essentially is reserved for members who believe they had been personally attacked in their official capacity or the rights, integrity or dignity of the chamber had been brought into question.

The implication was clear that Reeves would cut him off if he veered from that narrow focus.

Bryan used the point of personal privilege to urge his fellow senators, both Democrats and Republicans, to regain control of the Senate chamber. He said the 52 senators had essentially ceded all of their authority to the presiding officer – the lieutenant governor.

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WDAM – Statewide survey reveals voters’ thoughts on policy issues

Statewide survey reveals voters’ thoughts on policy issuesThe latest Millsaps College/Chism Strategies State of the State Survey reveals some patterns about voters views. Part of the survey that’s remained the same is a ranking of priorities by issue.

“We’ve asked now seven consecutive quarters what should be the top priority facing Mississippi’s elected officials in Jackson,” explained Millsaps political science professor Dr. Nathan Shrader. “And seven straight quarters, the most popular response is fixing roads and bridges.”

Consistent second and third priorities have been more funding for public schools and accessibility and affordability of healthcare.

“A pattern here that I think has emerged, voters pay more attention to politics than we give them credit for at times,” Shrader said. “They know more about the issues, and I think sometimes we think that they’re not paying attention and that they’re aloof from politics.”

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SUNHERALD – Analysis: Some issues unsolved by lawmakers will be back

In the same way, it’s hard to detect the impact of issues that lawmakers didn’t deal with. But as in any session, there were important issues on which the Mississippi Legislature didn’t make laws, or even really consider.

This, for example, could have been the year for lawmakers to create a state public defender system…

…An emboldened Republican majority could take another run at a rewrite if 2019 elections are favorable to them. However, state Senate Education Committee Chairman Gray Tollison, an Oxford Republican and key supporter of change, is retiring. His absence could matter.

Some other issues vanished in this election year because Republicans didn’t want to tinker with the machinery they rely on for re-election. Democratic state Sen. David Blount of Jackson made a convincing case that it’s extraordinarily difficult for Mississippi citizens temporarily outside the state to vote by absentee ballot in runoff elections held three weeks after earlier votes.

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WTVA – Mississippi revenue beats expectations in July through March

Mississippi government collected more money than expected during the first nine months of the state budget year, partly because of lawsuit settlements.

The Legislative Budget Office released numbers Friday showing the state collected about $120 million more than experts had predicted from July through March. That’s about 3.2% above the original estimate.

That included more than $17 million in lawsuit settlements. Corporate tax collections also exceeded expectations.

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DAILY JOURNAL – State Sen. Chad McMahan: Legislature committed to public education

McMahan, ChadThe 2019 Mississippi Legislative Session has come to a close. As a Republican, it is important to me that public education is always adequately funded. Unfortunately, there have been a number of misconceptions circulating regarding the Legislature’s funding of public education. Allow me to share the facts.

The taxpayers made another investment in public education and committed an additional $59 million to increase our teachers’ and assistant teachers’ salaries with a $1,500 annual pay raise. We were able to invest this additional revenue and maintain a balanced budget. An additional $60 million were committed to the public employees retirement system known as PERS.

Also, legislation was passed to allow teachers and assistant teachers the options of taking personal vacation days the day before or the day after an official holiday. The legislation also allows educators to split their bereavement allotted days in times of family loss and take those days when it best meets the teacher’s emotional needs.

The taxpayers also invested $500,000 in an expanded debt forgiveness program based on geographic and subject needs. This will allow a teacher in certain geographic areas and in certain subjects to receive up to $3,000 a year toward their student loans.

WLOX – State Senator Brice Wiggins on the MS Legislative Session

See the source imageThe State Legislature passed a teacher pay raise this week before adjourning. State Senator Brice Wiggins is here with the latest.

Click here for the video of the interview.

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MBJ – Bill Crawford: Can lesser knowns keep favored candidates from saving us?

Still and all, the lesser known candidates are unlikely to up-end Reeves, Waller, and Hood.

As for them, all three have plans to save us. Reeves wants to save us from taxes and Washington liberalism. Hood wants to save us politically and spiritually. Waller wants to save us from irresponsible government.

At this point in the campaign, it’s easy to envision Reeves as a tweetless mini-Trump with a dash of Betsy DeVos which appeals to many Republicans, Hood as a toned-down Billy Graham proselytizing us on family friendly issues, and Waller as a laidback, conservative William Winter running an issues based, responsible government campaign.

How will this play out? Let’s assume there are no lesser known candidate surprises.

To win, Waller, a Baptist deacon, must activate statewide the same sort of grassroots coalitions that carried Baptist deacons Gregg Harper and Michael Guest to victory in their congressional races. Hood must grab a large share of white Christian conservatives and turn out a huge black vote in November. If neither happens, Reeves’ deep pockets and tax-cut agenda should carry him to victory. A Waller upset of Reeves would greatly dim Hood’s prospects.

The wild cards for November are President Trump showing up to meddle in the campaign and the level of black voter turnout.